Chapter 18:

Ch 18 - The Ceremony Express

St Chaos Healer

Everyone picked up their luggage and stared in the direction of the approaching train. Everyone was excited, like little kids. Even the adults here had their jaw wide opened gulping saliva as if they just wanna gobble the train in a single bite.Bookmark here

My parents weren’t any different.Bookmark here

The steam mana locomotive was encroaching at high speed while blowing out big clouds of dark smoke. As it gets closer and closer, I could feel the vibration coming from the platform where I was standing. The scene looked like a giant serpent that breathes out smoke from its nostrils, advancing at us at full speed.Bookmark here

In a mere minute, the Ceremony train arrived at our station. As it came to the platform a surge of strong wind passed around, almost blowing everyone from their feet. It’s that’s when I finally got a closer look at the beauty of the Ceremony train.Bookmark here

The first thing to come into view was the Steam Mana Locomotive. The locomotive was huge, almost like a walking palace but only made of dark dull metal.Bookmark here

The steam locomotive itself was cylindrical in shape and it was about as tall as 3 storey building and as wide as a big palace. You could just say it looked like a wide tall tower placed horizontally on the tracks. There were a lot of pipes going criss-cross over the engine. I also saw few gauges and cylindrical pipe opening letting out steam.Bookmark here

In the front of the locomotive was a big V-shaped metal frame that was used to clear any obstacle on the way. Just like the combination of charging battering ram and the snow plower.Bookmark here

On the top of the locomotive were eight large chimneys puffing out big dark clouds of smoke. There were about 18 enormous wheels along with even some smaller size wheels to run this thing. I also noticed few mysterious rune patterns in some parts of the locomotive.Bookmark here

This locomotive is actually an older model locomotive as you can tell by how the engine metal had lost its luster. The new and powerful model locomotives are actually used by the regular railways. The one used as the ceremony train was actually the older prototype that they had discarded from service.

But beggars can't be choosers so the common folk like us are more than happy to just board this train.Bookmark here

After the locomotive went past by, we spotted the carriage wagons.
The first set of wagons were long and broad black boxes. Nothing special about these wagons except for the windows. There was a lot of different shape of windows scattered across without any pattern. There were circular, rectangle, L-shaped, etc spread across the wagon. We couldn’t see inside the wagon through these windows for some reason.Bookmark here

In the center of the wagon was a double door, the entrance to the carriage wagon. Just above the door was a board sign telling the alphanumerical name of the wagons.Bookmark here

The first carriage wagons were set of A1- 1, A1- 2… and so on.
These A set carriages must belong to those rich class people who had boarded the platform through the elevator.Bookmark here

After A set of black carriages went away, finally B set wagons came along.Bookmark here

B carriage wagons were similar to A carriage, just the color was brown instead of black. The rest of the aspects were the same.Bookmark here

After waiting for few more minutes the train had gradually slowed down and it finally halted.
It’s when our carriage wagon, B5- 7 finally arrived right in front of our area.Bookmark here

Suddenly the adults started hushing their kids.
The atmosphere suddenly became tense and I don’t know why everyone acting so tight-lipped. Even my parents told me to keep quiet. I had nothing to do anyway, so I obeyed.Bookmark here

After few minutes of waiting in silence the double door of our wagons opened. From inside the door, a steady platform came trickling down to our platform. A mini bridge was created in an instant.Bookmark here

Kids seeing this became excited and tried to rush but their parents stopped them.Bookmark here

Just when the crowd was becoming noisier suddenly a figure exited from the same door that just opened.Bookmark here

A rail guard appeared in front of us.
The rail guard looked like a man in his 40s with long hair reaching till his shoulder. On his head, he wore a black fedora hat and a black long coat like every other guard. He was also wearing circular sunglasses just about the right size to cover his eyes. But unlike every other rail guard who carried a sword on their hip, this man held a strange black wooden cane in his hand.Bookmark here

As he came out of the entrance he glanced at the crowd. Then a smile appeared on his face,
“Welcome to the Ceremony express. I am Bervice Grate, the wagon manager of Carriage no. B5- 7. I hope everyone can get along with me and my squadmates.”Bookmark here

I was a bit surprised, it wasn’t just me. Everyone looked at him strangely.Bookmark here

Every rail guard we had seen had already given us the cold shoulder. They didn’t even see us as human beings but just like a mere bug.Bookmark here

Now all of a sudden such a humble and friendly rail guard appeared out of nowhere.
It’s not just strange but also downright creepy.Bookmark here

But unlike me, everyone here had a smile as if they were quite happy with our wagon manager's demeanor.

Am I the only person finding it strange?
Is something wrong with me?Bookmark here

I can’t help but feel wary of this man.Bookmark here

Why was he acting friendly, unlike his colleagues?
Was he actually a good person as he was showing everyone here or does he have another motive behind it?Bookmark here

As a victim of betrayal, I can’t easily trust people at their face value.
It was actually more easy to trust rude and greedy people than those people who act very kind and good to others for no reason at all.Bookmark here

The only thing they are doing good for others is if they are either atoning for something or they have a different motive for doing so. People who are actually doing kindness for no reason are people with mental issues or something. I had my experience of meeting a lot of people and everyone was just bags of rotten apples, almost all of them had some insidious motive.Bookmark here

Or maybe it’s just me who thinks like this.Bookmark here

After hearing the introduction of the wagon manager, everyone was muttering within. They all were quite happy and satisfied to be bestowed with such a friendly rail guard. Even my father was nodding and praising him.Bookmark here

Wagon manager, Bervice just glanced at the crowd with a smile for a few seconds.
He then reached out to his pocket and took out a metal instrument just a size of a fist, it was a ticket punching instrument.
“Alright, I hope everyone has brought out their tickets. Form an orderly manner line to board aboard the ceremony express.”Bookmark here

The crowd suddenly riled up and started forming a line.
Groups of a family stuck together while forming the queue and walked up to the bridge connecting the platform and the entrance of the carriage. Bervice stood at the entrance punching tickets and letting people enter the carriage wagon.Bookmark here

We also got into the queue with the rest of the people. My parents were quick to befriend other families standing in the queue. They were quick to get along as if they were friends since childhood.Bookmark here

My mother’s beautiful and charming, so it’s acceptable that she can easily befriend other people. She must be quite a popular girl during her younger days. Scratch that, she is still popular.Bookmark here

But it is still surprising that my father was also quite an open and approachable person. It’s just his when he turns into an antique salesman that makes people avoid him. Other than that he is quite normal.Bookmark here

My parents and the other kid’s parent chatted for a while.
Then all of a sudden their attention falls on me.

My parents then told me to introduce myself.
I just did a one-liner introduction, nothing catchy, unlike my parents.Bookmark here

Meanwhile, the kid from the other family was quite a shy boy.
Unlike most of the time, his introduction consisted of stuttering and babbling words while hiding behind his mother’s thighs.Bookmark here

It took almost half of the queue to clear up before he could finish his introductions.
My parents praised him for completing his introduction as if he was some god darn prodigy.Bookmark here

My family and his family then chatted most of the time waiting in the queue.
The shy boy who introduced himself as Shaun was still hiding behind his mom glancing at me from time to time. I had no interest in chatting or getting to know him. The way he was acting so shy as if he was butt naked.Bookmark here

It's hard enough to converse with normal kids, it's more than impossible to actually talk with shy kids. I can understand girls being shy but what's wrong with this boy?Bookmark here

Hence it will take a lot more effort, so I just ignored him.Bookmark here

It wasn’t soon enough we came in front of the wagon manager.
Shaun's family was ahead of us, so they went first inside.

Next, it was our turn.
The wagon manager punched our tickets and let us go inside the carriage.
When I got a closer look I noticed that the Bervice guy was a lot taller and menacing. Even while punching tickets he kept smiling. It just gave me chills.Bookmark here

My parents thanked him and I even had to bow my head as thanks. The wagon manager just chuckled and said it was no big deal.
Soon he allowed us to enter the wagon.Bookmark here

As soon as we entered the entrance I had this weird feeling going over my body. The feeling didn’t last for long.Bookmark here

Before I know it we entered into a wide hall.
The hall itself contained polished wooden walls with intricate designs and patterns. There was quite a lot of furniture, coffee tables, sofas, and couches laid down. A wide carpet to cover the floor and there was even a fountain in the center. There was a giant chandelier in the middle of the ceiling that lit the room.Bookmark here

I spotted a lot of corridors and stairways leading to other places.Bookmark here

Few people were resting and chilling on the couches as if it was their own house. They were none other than the people who had just entered this carriage.Bookmark here

This looked more like a hotel mansion’s lobby than a mere carriage wagon.
This carriage was more spacious than it actual size of the wagon from what I had seen earlier. And I here thought that only the steam locomotive was mysterious.Bookmark here

I saw most of the people heading in a certain direction.
There I saw a lady seated at a wide desk table attending to the passengers who had just boarded. She must be the receptionist assigned to deal with the passengers.Bookmark here

Passengers who just arrived like us are instructed to go to the desk lady and exchange their tickets for the room key.

While most of the family members would wait in the lobby as one of the family members would take their tickets to exchange them for the room key.Bookmark here

I along with Shaun’s family took an area and waiting for our Dad’s who went to join the queue at the reception desk.Bookmark here

Most of the couches and seating furniture were already occupied, so we just looked for an open area and kept our luggage there, and waited for the room keys.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.